Many people facing criminal charges have the same questions. And if you’re dealing with the same issues, you’re probably feeling angry, anxious, or even confused. Every case is different, which is why you should contact a Texas criminal defense attorney so you can have the right person by your side. While nothing can take the place of a face-to-face consultation, there are some common questions that people ask when they’re planning their Texas criminal defense strategy.
When should I talk to the police?
You should never talk the police without the presence of your attorney. If you’re being questioned by the police, they probably don’t have enough evidence to arrest you and are hoping you’ll make an incriminating statement. Don’t make this costly mistake. Many police officers who get charged with a crime will hire a criminal defense attorney almost immediately, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same.
A qualified criminal defense lawyer will look out for your best interests by talking to investigators without saying anything that can be used in court, and they’ll look for any information that he or she can use to get your charges dropped or lowered. If you choose to speak with a police office without your lawyer, they can and will use what you say against you in court.
What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is your first court appearance, regardless of whether you have been arrested or taken into custody. It’s when you will be formally presented with any charges that have been made against you, and it’s where you’ll be asked to enter a plea. In the State of Texas, an arraignment is also where the judge will decide on the bail amount and whether you should be detained or released until your trial. If the court decides to keep you in custody, the judge can also decide on the amount of your bail.
What is bail and how does it work?
Any amount of money determined by the court that will allow you to be conditionally released until your trial is called a “bail.” The purpose of this arrangement is to allow people who are facing criminal charges to be freed temporarily, so they can have the opportunity to prepare for their trial. It also makes sure they come back to court when the day arrives.
People will usually hire bail bond companies to post their bail, and they get reimbursed after they show up in court (minus a premium for the service, which can be up to 10 percent). If they don’t show up for their trial, the company can revoke the bond and hire a bounty hunter to find them. A Texas criminal defense attorney can work with the courts to get the bail amount lowered or removed completely. An can also negotiate with the bond company on behalf of the client, so he or she can secure a lower premium rate.
What is a preliminary hearing?
If you have been charged with a felony offense (such a homicide or some other violent crime), a preliminary hearing will be one of the first steps in the process. During this pre-trial proceeding, the judge will determine whether there’s “probable cause” to pursue a criminal case and where the prosecution has enough evidence to charge you with a crime.
The standards for proof are much lower than an actual trial, but it’s an important step because it will give your attorney a chance to examine the case and put together the right defense. Your attorney may also take the opportunity to dispute any evidence, throw out witness testimonies, and identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
What is a pretrial conference?
Also called a “pretrial motion,” a pretrial conference is a legal proceeding that happens before the trial begins. And its purpose is the make sure that it’s “fair and expeditious.” Both parties will sit together with the judge to determine which pieces of evidence and witness testimonies can be used in court. It’s also when your attorney can talk about a possible plea bargain with the District Attorney (such as pleading guilty to a less serious charge or reducing it from a felony to a misdemeanor). The majority of criminal cases never go to trial. Most of them will end through a plea bargain during the pretrial conference.
If you have any more questions about your case, feel free to contact Gale Law Group. We would be happy to speak with you!